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Shifting Dollars: How to Find a Balance Between Reach and Targeting Campaigns

Written by Michael Knight, Senior Account Manager and Jacob Brown, Senior Account Analyst

When you’re thinking about where you should be putting your money, it should always come down to your goals and your results. First, think about what advertising efforts will help with what goals the company has set. Secondly, develop models to visualize which advertising avenues have the largest effect on hitting your goals.


Goal Alignment with Targeting Efforts


Goal alignment is the first key strategy to understanding what targeting methods should be used and how to allocate dollars based on those goals. The first question that should be asked is:


What is the current targeting and what are the goals?


The answer to this key question will show if the two are aligned. For example, if the goal is to balance reach and targeting through multiple channels, but 75% of the budget is being put towards TV as brand awareness, then the discussion of goal and channel will have to take place to move dollars from TV to digital advertising and direct response to balance out the budget with the goals.


There are two main points in the funnel being discussed that drive completely different results:


Awareness vs Direct


On one end of the spectrum lives Awareness and Reach through channels like TV. The other side is Direct and Targeting through channels like digital remarketing.




Channels and Goals

The chart above explores how each channel contributes to reach and direct performance.  Based on the goal, this can be used to find the balance between gaining more interest in a product or service and gaining the direct call to action after the initial awareness strategy.


Based on this and the goals, let’s break down the goals with each channel.


Reach and Awareness


The common channels used for reach include TV, display, video, and social. These channels help you get in front of a large audience in a short amount of time to build up awareness of a brand or its offerings.


Mid-funnel Reach and Direct response

Social, display, and search serve as mid-funnel approaches that correlate more reach than highly targeted direct response performance. This is where channels become more convoluted based on the deeper strategy tied to each individual channel. For example, social can be a true reach tool as well as a tool to find direct response.


In the mid-funnel strategy, social can be used to find similar users to current customers and send a direct response message to those potential candidates. This allows for the awareness with a specific call to action.


Display is another great example. Display can be used as a pure awareness opportunity, but when coupled with the right targeting methods, it can be narrowed down in the same way as social to find new opportunities outside of the targeted reach while still delivering a direct response message.


Lastly, search can be used as mid-funnel through generic terms that are used to define the business product or service, but are not correlated directly to the specific brand. These types of campaigns usually drive a larger impression volume, also known as reach, but are targeting individuals who are more likely to still be tied to a direct response if the messaging fits.


Direct Response


These options include search, social conversion campaigns, and remarketing. There are a lot of ways to have a direct response through these channels, but with search, as an example, using brand terms from those who already found out about the brand through the TV or display efforts can now follow through a direct response campaign to sign up, get more information, or buy directly.


Social conversion campaigns can help do the same thing by finding current in-market users who are familiar with the brand and are more likely to convert based on their behavior.


Lastly, remarketing is key to staying in front of active users who have been engaged with the brand through another, more reach-focused initiative and reminding them to come back and convert. This can be done through remarketing for search, display campaigns with dedicated remarketing messaging, social remarketing and video remarketing. These campaigns drive undecided users to come back and engage more with the brand through the specified action.



Building the Strategy


After covering each channel’s opportunities, the next phase is to understand the goal and build a strategy based off of the collective opportunities.


Goal 1: Year over year brand growth

If this is the goal, putting more budget towards display and diversifying reach dollars towards multiple channels will help increase volume and awareness.


Goal 2: Year over Year sales or conversion growth

If the focus is to increase revenue or interest, concentrating on spending dollars on direct campaigns such as search, remarketing, and social will be key to driving up sales


Goal 3: Combined awareness and growth


Typically, this is the main goal of most brands. See a larger increase in awareness while also showing that through increased sales. To best do this, reallocating dollars towards digital channels can help better show the correlation between reach and direct response because of attribution.



Attribution Modeling


Attribution models and tools aren’t always perfect, and when involving TV, they usually aren’t perfect – but they are a great way to start measuring your advertising efforts. C3 is an example of a company that develops attribution models while considering TV efforts. These models are great for acknowledging what TV advertising can do comparably to Search advertising or other advertising efforts for your company.



Selecting an attribution model that explains why a certain segment of your advertising is getting credit (i.e.: Originator, Roster, Assister or Converter) is extremely important. This gives you insights you need to have control on what type of advertising you focus on/use in a given time period. The advertising efforts that perform well as originators typically are better efforts for awareness and growth, while converters will drive direct performance.



Data-driven models such as C3 help to provide information on what is working by using historical data of actions taken for each sale/lead that was driven. You then rely on the machine learning to tell you what contributed most to the sale or the lead rather than using arbitrary models.



Other Tactics for Judging the Higher Funnel



Though attribution models are extremely helpful, there are times where they don’t seem to tell the whole story. There are a multitude of tools out there that can help you find how your upper funnel efforts are contributing. But there are also tools that you can easily make to visualize how your upper funnel efforts are affecting direct results.


Correlation formulas help to show the correlation between when a new advertising effort was launched and when performance shifts on other advertising efforts. An example of this would be to dive into how many seconds a commercial ran in a local area (air time) compared to how many times a brand term was searched in that same area (search impressions). Going over a certain time frame, if there is good alignment in those days/weeks/months in which high average airtime also have high average search impressions, then the positive correlation will be higher.


Using graphs, you can also visualize 1) when you make adjustments to your targeting, how did the correlation react? and 2) where is there a point of diminishing returns with upper funnel advertising?


The image below shows a few correlation analyses that are looked at quite frequently in the online advertising world:



In the chart above we can visualize spikes in Display Impressions and see that they did not always get meant with spikes in branded impressions. When seeing this we can a) dive into what targeting efforts were added and eliminate those targets if we don’t see any other success and b) look into points of diminishing returns within this correlation. At what point of spend does the correlation drop off where brand impressions no longer follow the display impression spikes?



Another example in the chart above is a Facebook vs. Direct traffic comparison. In this example targeting efforts were adjusted on Facebook at the tail end here – and we can utilize this chart that it had a great positive effect on the correlation between Facebook Reach and Direct Traffic.




Using these tactics can help with finding what targeting efforts work. Additionally, you’ll realize once you have a base on your targeting, the point where there are diminishing returns. Then, you’ll know when you are getting too broad with your targeting to the point where Social, TV or Display advertising is not helping the bottom of the funnel fill up.